Zofia Boni, Jung, Yuson: Balkan Blues. Consumer Politics after State Socialism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019. 192 pp. ISBN 978-​0-​253-​02914-​0. Price: £ 26.99 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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change. Ives shows that what is at stake here are shift‐ ing livelihood patterns intimately linked to political, spiritual, and social systems of meaning. The rooibos narratives and rumors that Ives docu‐ mented illustrate how white farmers in South Africa “naturalize” white land ownership and belonging. This happens at the expense of colored and black people who are rendered invisible, labeled as “alien” and never fully human it seems. Afrikaner men are identified with the harsh environmental conditions that they adapted to through generations of family farming. They traced their origins to the rooibos soil and not to Europe. This intimate relation with the indigenous rooibos plant “in‐ digenized” them as well. They strongly belief that the extinct Khoisan people are the only “true” natives in the area who would be in the position to challenge their position on the land. They rarely acknowledge the cause of their extinction, namely colonial conquest. Colored farmers did not claim indigeneity or identify as Khoisan people. Their connections to rooibos focused more on its potential to break free from the oppressive relations on white commercial farms (92), a way of living to “get their dignity back,” and the possibility to care for the environment on their own terms. In this way, colored farmers claim ownership of rooibos as their heritage. Ives acknowledges that the emancipatory potential of the few small-scale farmers and their relations to rooi‐ bos depends on access to land, government economic policies and the impact of climate change. For now, the continued erasure of colored and black people’s labor and presence in the rooibos farming landscape is an on‐ going violent outcome of white farmers’ sense of be‐ longing in South Africa. “I just want a life, that’s all I want” said a colored man during a meeting on workers’ issues in Ives’ presence (182). The book presents hardhitting scenes where colored residents insist that Ives witnesses their everyday violent realities. There is an encounter with a farmworker in the local Spar (163 f.) whose friend’s shopping basket exposes the inevitability of hunger when depending on farmworker wages. An‐ other example is a scene of Ives, together with an American friend, in the hospital on a Friday night (38). Whilst there, a man insisted they look at a dead colored man who was stabbed in the neck. Everyday life in the Cederberg consists of more and less dramatic moments in which people have to negotiate structural violence. It struck me how much “Steeped in Heritage” res‐ onates with my own fieldwork findings from the East‐ ern Cape where I studied (in 2009) contestations of be‐ longing of another “indigenous” commodity farmed in South Africa, namely wildlife. Wildlife, like rooibos, has become a privatized commodity predominantly con‐ trolled by white commercial farmers and landowners who claim to be custodians of African landscapes and wildlife. Similar too are the ways in which white farm‐ ers’ sense of belonging is always frustrated by the pres‐ ence of unruly black people and wildlife species chal‐ lenging their control and authority. Just as the shifting rooibos ecosystem, wildlife breaks through fences and ignores property boundaries marking the borders of the farm, or even the nation. Mobility of human and nonhu‐ man species challenge power and property relations. Ives’ ethnography unmasks how local notions of peo‐ ple and species that are “out of place,” like black mi‐ grant workers and Australian Port Jackson trees in the Cederberg, are essentially matters that are beyond the control of the dominant group of people, in this case white commercial farmers. The fieldwork evidence traces how constructions of who and what constitutes an “alien” species result in violent social and ecological re‐ lations. The relevance and urgency of revealing the power contestations behind claims of belonging are po‐ litically important as another wave of xenophobic vio‐ lence just hit Johannesburg. In this context, we should address the question what is the purpose of ethnograph‐ ic knowledge that aims at understanding structural vio‐ lence? In my view, Ives’ findings raise questions about white farmers’ agency. Cultural and material appropriation of another plant species creates another layer of disposses‐ sion. When will it stop? What do we do as academics when we find that white farmers do not perceive farm workers as humans and do not care about the wellbeing or death of colored people in an environment where they own most of the land? The prospects at the end of 2019 of government implementing a land reform model that radically disrupts agricultural relations and specifi‐ cally the power and privileges of white farmers seems unlikely. In terms of what it means to be human today, the rooibos story leaves a bitter aftertaste. Femke Brandt ( Jung, Yuson: Balkan Blues. Consumer Politics after State Socialism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019. 192 pp. ISBN 978-0-253-02914-0. Price: £ 26.99 I read “Balkan Blues” as a commentary on the cur‐ rent crisis of capitalism. By focusing on Bulgaria, Yuson Jung carefully analyses the relations between cit‐ izens and state institutions and the broader citizen-con‐ sumer politics. Jung argues that in order to understand the Bulgarian post-socialist and EU accession path, we need to pay close attention not only to the relations between consumers and the market but also to the rela‐ tions between consumers and the state. She analyses the state and the market as anchored in each other, and demonstrates how Bulgarians’ changing relations with the state influence their consumer practices. As the au‐ thor explains: “I argue in this book that examining con‐ sumption as a site of civic engagement in which civic ideals are cast, as opposed to a site where identity and aspirations are expressed through individual agency, al‐ lows for new insights for understanding everyday con‐ sumption practices” (147). Already in the introduction to “Balkan Blues” Jung ar‐ gues that “consumer society was not automatically cre‐ ated from increased access to material abundance after living through socialism’s deficit economy” (7). And in 230 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 the book she studies the process of creating a consumer so‐ ciety in Bulgaria. We learn about the rise and fall of con‐ sumer organisations (chaps. 3 and 4); about the frustra‐ tions of consumer activists who complain that Bulgarians do not want to follow the “Western” models of consumer cultures (chap. 2); and that the existence of consumer cul‐ ture has been a prerequisite of joining the European Union (chap. 3). Bulgarian citizen-consumers repeatedly refuse, however, to fit within these expectations as they reject the idea of taking all the burden and responsibility on them‐ selves. They expect the state to care for them and protect them from products and practices that are mente. Mente – a central category of the book – means fake or not good products, including also in some contexts spoiled foods. But mente can also refer to corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen, and broken political systems. We see how Jung’s interlocutors strategise to avoid mente products, be it shoes, food, or heating, and how they complain that they are continuously at risk of obtaining such produce. They blame the state for not protecting their own citizens and keep looking for its accountability, if not at the national then at the EU level (see chap. 4). Consumer politics with‐ in the EU are coined around the concept of choice, but Bulgarians from Jung’s book continuously challenge the assumptions that the responsibility for consumption choices lies solely with them individually. Jung carefully explains that such an approach does not mean that they want to go back to socialism, but rather that they dare to imagine a different path than European neoliberalism. “Their demand was neither a return to a paternalistic state nor a neoliberal state, but a state that could balance the demands for access and choice for citizen-consumers” (154). In the 1990 s and early 2000 s, Bulgarians could not imagine any realistic alternative to EU integration (chap. 3) and Jung demon‐ strates how Bulgaria did not have a different path than complaisance – “the inability not to follow” – with the EU throughout the process of accession and integration. And yet by showing us how Bulgarians imagine and ex‐ pect a state morally committed to its citizens, Jung demonstrates their hopes for a different path in the cur‐ rent crisis of global capitalism. And this makes the book relevant well beyond post-socialist field in anthropol‐ ogy, demonstrating that post-socialism is indeed a “global condition,” and that a careful analysis of postsocialist processes can provide valuable insights into contemporary global processes. In anthropology, the focus on post-socialist regions, particularly Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), has been decreasing compared to the 1980 s–90 s and early 2000 s. CEE is certainly no longer “the hottest” anthro‐ pological topic or region, and there has been some de‐ bate within the field whether post-socialism still provides a valuable framework. “Balkan Blues” demon‐ strates how timely and revealing the analysis of post-so‐ cialist institutions can still be. The book is based on fieldwork spread over years, conducted mainly in 2001– 2002, and then in 2007, 2008, 2009 with brief follow ups later on between 2011 and 2016. We, therefore, be‐ come witnesses to how Bulgarians participate in and ex‐ perience the making of consumer society after state so‐ cialism and throughout the process of accessing the European Union. I only wish that we could learn more from the book about the last decade and how people ex‐ perienced consumer culture in the years after EU acces‐ sion. Despite her visits to Bulgaria at that time, Jung does not elaborate much on that period. Furthermore, I remain curious as to what happened after the 2008 fin‐ ancial crisis, which occurred a year after Bulgaria’s ac‐ cession to the EU, but is seldom mentioned in the book. “Balkan Blues” is a welcome addition to anthropol‐ ogy of consumption and material culture, economic an‐ thropology as well as to anthropology of the state. I read the book from two perspectives, as a researcher of East‐ ern Europe and as a person who grew up in Poland and experienced many situations like those Jung describes in her book. I found “Balkan Blues” to be quintessen‐ tially anthropological in that it is able to make “the fa‐ miliar strange.” But I also recommend this book for people not accustomed with CEE, as I am convinced “Balkan Blues” will also make “the strange familiar,” providing insights about people’s relations with the state and the market relevant well beyond the Bulgarian case. Zofia Boni ( Kasprycki, Sylvia S.: Five Years in America. The Menominee Collection of Antoine Marie Gachet. Al‐ tenstadt: ZKF Publishers; Fribourg: Pro Ethnographi©a, 2018. 96 pp. ISBN 978-3-9811620-9-7; 978-2-9701063- 1-9. (Pro Ethnographi©a Collections, 1) Price: € 19,90 The Menominee (Mamaceqtaw) are indigenous peo‐ ples of North America whose ancestral lands spanned what is now Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsu‐ la. Traditionally they enjoyed trade relationships with the Ojibwa, Potawatomi, and other Native groups across the Great Lakes region. Today the federally-recognized Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin regards their reservation land as adjacent to their culture’s place of origin, at the mouth of the Menominee River. Sylvia S. Kasprycki’s “Five Years in America. The Menominee Collection of Antoine Marie Gachet” is a beautifully illustrated volume that testifies to 19th-cen‐ tury Menominee life at the beginning of the reservation period as reflected in the drawings and collected ethno‐ graphic materials of Gachet, a Swiss Capuchin mission‐ ary. Gachet (1822–1890) lived with the Menominee be‐ tween 1859–1862. By this time the tribe had gained prominence in the European fur trade, only to lose most of their lands after coming under the control of the Unit‐ ed States following the War of 1812. In the first of her two essays, Kasprycki, an ethnohistorian and curator, traces the Euroamerican forces affecting Menominee way of life over the nearly 200-year-period leading up to Gachet’s arrival, including the interplay between tra‐ ditional Menominee and European Catholic spiritual practices. One of the many wonderful colorful drawings included in the book is Gachet’s depiction of an open air Book Reviews 231 Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.